Maharashtra records 33 tiger deaths this year
The 33 tiger deaths included eight cubs, four sub-adults and 21 adults- out of which five cubs were found dead last week
Maharashtra has recorded 33 tiger deaths since January this year, which is the highest number in the recent past, according to the data provided by the state wildlife headquarters in Nagpur.
The 33 tiger deaths included eight cubs, four sub-adults and 21 adults- out of which five cubs were found dead last week.
All the tiger deaths in the state in the last three years were reported from the Vidarbha region, which has five of the state’s six tiger reserves.
According to the state wildlife headquarters, though the tiger population in the state increased from 287 in 2018 to 350 tigers now in the recent census, mortality rate has also increased during the period.
Last year, 28 tigers died, of which seven were cubs, three were sub-adults and the remaining ones were adults.
In 2021, the toll was 27, of which five were cubs, three sub-adults, and the remaining ones were adults.
Out of eight tiger cub deaths this year, four were reported from Chandrapur, one from Brahmapuri and three from Pench Tiger Reserve in Nagpur district.
“Of those, three cubs died when their mother tigress abandoned them in Kalamna forest area under Ballarpur Forest Range of Chandrapur on Thursday last,” said Naresh Bhovre, range forest officer of Ballarpur forest range. The other two cubs were found dead in the buffer zone of Pench Tiger Reserve (PTR) in Nagpur district last week.
These deaths came a few days after a full-grown leopard and its two cubs were electrocuted after coming in contact with live electric wires – laid to kill wild boars – in the forests of Deori range in Gondia district of eastern part of Maharashtra.
Scientific studies have shown that, under natural conditions, infant mortality is very high in tigers and other large carnivores. Up to 40-60% of cubs born die due to natural reasons in the first 15 months. Even the forest department considers the high mortality of tiger cubs as natural.
“Though the monitoring of tiger population is very good in reserve forests of Maharashtra, there is an utmost need to enhance extensive monitoring in territorial areas too,” said Ajinkya Bhatkar, honorary wildlife warden, Nagpur.
“It is right that infant mortality in tigers is mostly because of natural reasons, but there should be a study by experts to explore other reasons for such deaths also. Like tiger reserves, the department should install camera traps in territorial areas to monitor the tiger movement. It will also help to curb the deaths due to electrocution that mostly take place in territorial areas. The state government should also form a separate fund for wildlife management in territorial areas to strengthen monitoring and other activities for wildlife conservation,” Bhatkar said.
“Maharashtra has also lost a significant number of leopards during the period too,” said Mohan Kothekar, a wildlife enthusiast.
“We have installed more camera traps and other modern equipment to monitor the movement of big cats in the region to minimise such tragedies,” said Jitendra Ramgaonkar, field director of Tadoba Tiger Reserves.
Meanwhile, Pench Tiger Reserve (PTR) will get four elephants to strengthen its patrolling team by the end of this month. Four jumbos, including three male – Bhima (30), Subramanaya (29), Ranjan (25) – and a female elephant, from Karnataka’s Motigodu and Dubare camps will join the PTR patrolling team.
“It is for the first time PTR will get elephants for patrolling, rescue and monitoring tasks in the forest. We have completed all procedures and formalities with the Karnataka Forest Department. By September end we will get these jumbos,” said Prabhunath Shukla, field director of PTR.